deed

Bethel buys its acre.

In November 1877, steward Lawrence Ward, acting on behalf of Bethel A.M.E. [Zion] Church, purchased the acre of land on which its church stood on the road leading from Stantonsburg to Contentnea Creek near Ruffin’s Bridge. The church is now located about a mile north of Stantonsburg, but its cemetery remains on the original acre. Ruffin’s Bridge was originally known as Peacock’s Bridge, and Peacock’s Bridge Road runs east of present-day NC Highway 58. 

Deed Book 14, page 366.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County } This deed made this the 16th day of November 1877 by F.M. Moye of Wilson County and State of North Carolina to Lawrence Ward of said County & State holding the office of Steward in the A.M.E. church known as Bethel Witnesseth that the said F.M. Moye in consideration of Twenty Five Dollars to him paid by the said Lawrence Ward as the representative of said church the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged have bargained & sold by these presents do bargain & sell & convey to the said Lawrence Ward and his successors in office for the benefit & use of said Church a certain lot of land in said county, it being the land on which the building of the said church is situated on the North side of Big Contentnea creek near Ruffins bridge and on the east side of the road leading to said Bridge and is a part of the tract of land Known as the Davis land containing one acre To have and to hold the aforesaid lot of and all privileges thereto belonging to the said Lawrence Ward and his successors in office for the benefit & use of said church And the said F.M. Moye covenant that he is seized of said lot of land in fee and has the right to convey the same in fee simple and that he will warrant & defend the said title to the same against the claims of all persons whatsoever In testimony whereof the said F.M. Moye have hereunto set his hand & seal the say & year above written  /s/ F.M. Moye   Attest J.K. Peacock, J.S. Ellis 

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In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Lawrence Ward, 25, farmer, owned $1000 in real property; wife Mary, 20; and daughter Mary A., 3; Chloie, 14, Lydia, 11, Jennie, 10, and Patrick Pope, 7; and Sophia Ward, 48.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lawrence Ward, 38; wife Mary, 29; daughter Mary, 14; mother Sophia, 58; and farm worker Henry Lane, 12. [Their proximity in 1870 and 1880 to the house and plantation of Dr. David G.W. Ward suggests that Lawrence and Sophia Ward had been owned by the doctor in slavery.]

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Laurence Ward, 55, farmer; wife Mary, 43; mother Sophia, 84; and granddaughter Amie Yelverton, 13.

In the 1910 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County: Lawrence Ward, 66, farmer; mother Sophia, 98; wife Mary, 60; and granddaughter Amy Yelverton, 21.

Lawrence Ward died 29 August 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1831  in Wilson County to Sophia Ward; was married; was a retired farmer; and was buried in Wayne County.

Deed book 14, page 366, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps.

A lot in Rest Haven.

Ed and Daisy Hagans purchased a plot at Rest Haven cemetery for twenty-five dollars on 26 July 1948. Such a sale constitutes a real estate transaction, and the Haganses’ transaction was recorded in Deed Book 357, page 413, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

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This is somewhat confusing, as Edward Hagans died 20 July 1948. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 April 1913 in Wilson County to Isaac Hagans and Essie Mae Farmer; was married to Daisy Hagans; lived at 555 East Nash Street; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Rest Haven on 22 July 1948.

Edward and Daisy Hagans’ daughter Gloria Devetta Hagans died at home on 28 July 1948 of pulmonary tuberculosis (as had her father.) Per her death certificate, she was born 25 November 1934 in Wilson to Edward Hagans and Daisy Melton; was a student; lived at 536 East Nash; and was buried at Rest Haven.

Per Joan Howell’s Cemetery, Volume 5, Edward, Daisy and Gloria Hagans, plus Albert Hagans, are buried in Section 3 between rows L and M.

Establishing a property line.

On 12 February 1946, Leslie and Minnie Diggs Artis of Eureka, Wayne County, and the Trustees of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church reached an agreement to resolve uncertainty over the location of back boundary for property that each party owned on Smith and Church Streets.

Both Artises had close ties to Wilson. Leslie Artis, son of Napoleon and Sallie Taylor Artis, was the nephew of Cain, C.E., June Scott, Walter and William Artis, Josephine Artis Sherrod, and Amanda Artis Cooper, as well as Jonah Williams, whose daughter Clarissa Williams owned the lot adjoining the disputed properties.

Leslie Artis (1892-1974).

Minnie Diggs Artis was a cousin of Edgar H. Diggs. And the Artises’ daughter Sallie Mae Artis Shackleford (1924-2013) was a long-time resident of Academy Street in East Wilson.

Minnie Diggs Artis (1897-1970).

The church’s trustees were Camillus L. Darden, John Mack Barnes, Separise P. Artis, Louis Thomas, James Henry Knight, Charles Knight, D.E. Simms, C.L. Hardy, A.J. McCoy, Linwood Moore, and David Henry Coley.

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Photos courtesy of Leroy Barnes; deed book 318, pages 183-185, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Rev. Taylor sells his house to First Baptist Church.

In January 1923, Halley B. and Marie Taylor of Paterson, New Jersey, sold the trustees of First Baptist Church a large lot “in the southeast corner of Chas. Thomas‘ lot on Green Street and runs with Green Street, Southeasterly 60 feet to the corner of Green and Vick Streets, thence with Vick Street, Northeasterly 60 feet, cornering thence at right angles to Viola Street, Southwesterly 210 feet to Green Street.” Trustees Noah J. Tate, Austin N. Neal, George Roberson, Ed Holden, Harry Brown and Glenn S. McBrayer paid the Taylors $6500 for the property. H.B. Taylor was pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church from 1908 to 1920.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows a large one-story house with wrap-around front porch at 721 East Green Street. In the 1988 nomination form for historic register designation for East Wilson, the house is described as “ca. 1913; 1 1/2 stories; H.B. Taylor House; intact Queen Anne cottage with double-pile, hip-roofed form and front-facing wing….” The house has since been demolished.

Deed book, page, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Another Jackson Chapel?

Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church looms over the intersection of East Nash and Pender Streets. It is one of the oldest African-American churches in Wilson County and for much of its existence was one of the largest congregations. Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion though?

This deed reveals that there was such a church in Wilson County just before World War I. In November 1917, Lizy and William McCoy, Rosa and Gray Speight, Robert and Annie Bynum, Arch and Lilly Bynum, and Tamer Bynum (the heirs and widow of George Bynum) sold a parcel of land for $200 to W.F. Leak, John Williams, Melinda Leak, James Anderson, G.W. Leak, Alexander Leak, Floyd Ellis and J.T. Jackson, trustees of Jackson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church. The parcel, measuring just over an acre, lay beside the Norfolk Southern Railroad track “near the Town of Evansdale.” (Evansdale has never been a town. It is crossroads community that, in its heyday, was centered around the intersection of what are now Evansdale and Graves Roads.) If the church were ever constructed, it no longer stands, and the congregation has disbanded. (George J. Leake, however, a grandson of William F. and Malinda Leak born in 1929, became an A.M.E. Zion minister, rising to the office of bishop before his death at age 51.)

The Bynum Family

On 31 October 1869, Puss Artice, daughter of Arch and Rosa Artice, married George Bynum, son of Thos. Drake and Eliza Bynum, at Arch Artice’s. [“Puss” was the nickname of Tamar Artis Bynum.]

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Archabald Artis, 70; wife Rosa, 34; Tamer Bynum, 23, and [her husband] George, 25.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer George Bynum, 35; wife Tamer, 30; and children Arch, 7, Roser, 6, Lesey, 4, and Robert, 3 months.

  • Arch Bynum — Arch Bynum, 23, of Wilson township, son of Geo. and Tama Bynum, married Lilly Woodard, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Webster and Liza Woodard, on 27 February 1896. George Woodard applied for the license and the marriage took place at Webster Woodard’s in the presence of Rosa Bynum, Johnie Moore and Richmond Mercer. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Arch Bynum, 37, odd jobs; wife Lillie, 31; and children Nnes, 11, Junis, 7, George, 4, Rena, 2, and Ressie, 2 months.
  • Rosa Bynum — Gray Speight, 47, of Greene County, son of Noah and Synty Speight, married Rosa Brooks, 40, of Stantonsburg, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, on 24 November 1925 in Stantonsburg. Rosa Speight died 24 August 1967. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 March 1874 in Wilson County to George Bynum and Tammer Artis; was a widow; had worked as a farmer. Informant was Louise Hinnant.
  • Lizy Bynum — On 30 June 1897, W.J. McKoy, 25, of Wilson, son of Alex and Ellen McKoy, married Leacy Bynum, 20, of Wilson, daughter of George and Tamer Bynum, at George Bynum’s residence. In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, farmer Will McCoy, 34; wife Leesie, 32; and children Joe, 11, Lossie, 9, Nancy, 8, Robert, 4, and Mary, 3.
  • Robert Bynum — Robert Bynum, 22, of Stantonsburg, son of George and Tamy Bynum, married Florence Barnes, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Stephen and Adline Barnes, on 4 January 1905 at Steave Barnes’ in Stantonsburg. Robert Bynum, 31, of Wilson, son of George Bynum, married Annie Darden, 21, of Wilson, daughter of C.F. Darden and Mattie Darden on 11 December 1912 at C.F. Darden’s in Black Creek.

The Trustees

  • W.F. Leak — in the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer William F. Leak, 53; wife Malinda, 40; children L[illegible], 17, Albert, 15, Arron, 12, David, 9, and George, 3; son-in-law Lubia Oliver, 27; daughter Lucy, 21; and brother George W. Leak, 43, widower. In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, farmer William Leak, 57; wife Malinda, 54; widowed daughter Mannie Hicks, 34; and brother George Leak, 54.
  • John Williams
  • Melinda Leak
  • James Anderson
  • G.W. Leak — George Washington Leak.
  • Alexander Leak — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, Alexander Leak, 44, wide Elizar Jane, 39; and children Junous, 21, Octivis, 20, James, 15, Wyley, 9, Mamie, 12, Rosa, 5, and Addie, 1.
  • Floyd Ellis — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Evansdale Road, tenant farmer Floid Ellis, 44; wife Mollie, 42; and children Floid T., 12, King A., 10, Joe M., 5, John A., 3, and Mary Reb, 6 months.
  • J.T. Jackson

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This abandoned general store building stands beside the Norfolk-Southern railroad at Evansdale Road and Graves Road. Unused since at least the 1950s, it was likely the heart of the community in which the Bynums and Leaks lived. There is no trace of a church along the railroad.

Five years after this purchase, a terrible tornado tore through Evansdale, killing an African-American school teacher and leaving families, including William Leak’s, homeless. Was Jackson Chapel destroyed in this storm, never to be rebuilt?

Deed book 111, page 399, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2020.

The purchase of land for Macedonia.

As we saw here, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church is one of the few surviving early twentieth-century wooden gable-end African-American churches in Wilson County. In 1917, Macedonia trustees R.A. Worrell and Matthew Sauls acted on behalf of the church to purchase the one-half acre lot on which the church was later built. 

Note the reference to the adjoining property — the “public school lot, known as Powell’s school house (col).” Powell School predated the Rosenwald school-era. It was not listed in a recent state survey of early African-American schools in Wilson County.

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In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: on Goldsboro Road, Matthew Sauls, 43; wife Fannie, 36; and children Sylvester, 15, Nellie, 12, Maggie, 6, Dred, 4, Hattie, 2, and Bessie, 5 months.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on W.R. Raper Road, farmer R[ichard] A. Worlds, 40; wife Rachel, 43; and children Bessie, 16, Eddie, 13, Effie, 12, Richard, 10, Iona, 7, Elnora, 6, Viola, 3, and John, 2.

Deed book 111, page 195, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Lane Street Project: another deed for Rountree cemetery.

I published here the deed for the purchase in 1906 of one acre of the land that now comprises the abandoned Rountree cemetery. I speculated that the remaining acre was purchased later. However, it appears that, in fact, Rountree Missionary Baptist Church trustees bought the first acre of the burial ground — the section west of Lane Street — almost ten years earlier, in 1897.

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North Carolina, Wilson County  }

This Deed, made this 2nd day of August, A.D., 1897, by F.W. Barnes and wife, Mattie B. Barnes, Parties of the first part, to George Harris, Charles Bullock and Arch Harris, Trustees, of the Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, Parties of the Second Part, all of County and State aforesaid, witnesseth:

That the Said Parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of Twenty Five Dollars, to them in hand paid, (the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged), have bargained and sold, and do by these presents convey unto the Said Parties of the Second part, and their successors in office, that certain lot of land, lying and being situate in Wilson Township, county and state aforesaid, adjoining the lands of F.W. Barnes and Martin V. Barnes, and more particularly described as follows: Beginning at a stake on the path leading from the Plank road to the Stantonsburg road where a small branch crosses said path, thence westerly with said path, a fence row, 270 feet to a stake cornering thence northerly 250 feet to a stake in Said branch, thence down said branch or ditch to the beginning containing one acre, more or less. It is understood and agreed that the path above referred to Shall at no time be closed up and that the public shall have the enjoyment thereof without the interference or interruption from the said parties of the first part.

To have and to hold said real estate unto the said parties of the Second part and their successors in office in fee simple. And the said F.W. Barnes, for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators, doth covenant to and with the said parties of the Second part, and their successors in office, that he will forever warrant and defend the title to the Said land against the lawful claim or claims of all other persons whomsoever. In Testimony whereof the Said parties of the first part have hereunto  set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written.  /s/ F.W. Barnes, Mattie B. Barnes

——

Note this description: “beginning at a stake on the path leading from the Plank road to the Stantonsburg road where a small branch crosses said path.” The “small branch” is Sandy Creek. The plank road is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the continuation of East Nash Street beyond U.S. Highway 301. Stantonsburg road is still Stantonsburg Road. The path? That’s modern-day Lane Street, which no longer spans the entire stretch between MLK and Stantonsburg. Instead, just beyond Vick cemetery it makes an abrupt westward turn toward 301.

Here’s detail from the United States Geological Survey’s 1904 topographic map of North Carolina’s Wilson Quadrangle:

The rough area of the cemeteries is encircled. Lane Street clearly continued down to Stantonsburg Road at the time.

  • George Harris
  • Charles Bullock — Bullock was also one of the trustees who purchased the second parcel.
  • Arch Harris — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Arch Harris, 53; wife Rosa, 45; and children James, 22, Arch, 20, Mary Jane, 18, Nancy, 16, Lucy, 12, Minnie, 11, Maggie, 8, Jessie, 6, and Annie, 3.
  • Rountree Missionary Baptist Church

Deed book 45, page 153, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

The A.M.E. trustees buy a lot on Suggs Street.

On 25 July 1906, Norris Stevens, C.C. Goffney, Moses Bennett, J.M. Sanders and M.L. Phillips, trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, paid $200 for a 90′ by 110′ lot on Suggs Street.

The A.M.E. church as drawn in the 1922 Sanborn map of Wilson, N.C. 

The church was the first home of Saint Luke A.M.E. Church, which moved to its current location at Vick and Atlantic Streets in the 1930s. Saint Luke’s cornerstone describes its founding as 1910, however, which seems to indicate that a different, earlier congregation built this building.

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  • Norris Stevens — Norris Stephens died 5 December 1909 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 35 years old; was married; lived on Darden Alley; was born in Duplin County to Joe Stephens of Sampson County and Emline Flowers of Wayne County. Lum C. Goffney was informant.
  • C.C. Goffney — In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Sugg Street, Christopher Gofney, 44, carpenter; his wife Fannie, 30; and son Clinton, 16; plus lodger Freeter Moseley, 19, insurance agent. Christopher Columbus Goffney died 3 September 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 December 1858 in Ed[ge]combe County to Woodson Goffney and an unknown mother; and worked as a carpenter. Lucy Goffney was informant.
  • Moses Bennett — Moses Bennett died 27 April 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 47 years old; was married; worked as a laborer; was born in Sampson County to Wright Bennett. Informant was Calline Bennett.
  • J.M. Sanders
  • M.L. Phillips

Deed book, page 361, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

The Colored Free Will Baptist Church buys a lot on Vance Street.

This deed made this 29th day of May 1900 by S.H. Vick and wife to Louis Bess, Daniel Blount and Windsor Darden Trustees of the Colored Free Will Baptist Church of Wilson and their Successors in office all of the County of Wilson and State of North Carolina,

WITNESSETH: — THAT FOR and in consideration of the sum of thirty five dollars to them in paid, the receipt whereof of is hereby acknowledged the said S.H. Vick and wife have bargained and sold and do by these presents bargain sell and convey to the said Louis Bess Daniel Blount Windsor Darden and their successors in office one lot or parcel of land lying and being situate in Wilson Township County of Wilson, and State of North Carolina, and bounded and described as follows:

BEGINNING at a stake in the corner of Elba and Vance Streets and running with Vance Street North West 30 feet, thence South West forty five feet, thence south east thirty feet, thence North East forty five feet to the beginning, containing thirteen hundred and forty square feet.

TO HAVE OR TO HOLD the above described lot or parcel of land to the said Louis Bess, Daniel Blount, Windsor Daniel and their successors in office in fee simple and the said S.H. Vick binds himself and heirs to warrant and defend the premises hereby conveyed against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF WITNESS our hands and seals the date above written. /s/ S.H. Vick, Annie M. Vick

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In 1900, the trustees of Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church bought a small lot at the corner of Vance and Elba Streets from Samuel H. and Annie M. Vick. The church they built is shown in this detail from the 1913 Wilson, N.C., Sanborn map, below. The one-story wooden building was heated with stoves and lit with oil and featured a two-story tower on its front elevation. Though this building is long gone, Piney Grove remains an active congregation. Per the current church’s cornerstone, the church was founded in 1882 by Reverends A. and D. Blunt.

  • Louis Bess — in the 1900 census of Wilson, WIlson County: Louis Best, 70, wood sawer; wife Harrit, 60, washing; and son William, 31, driver.
  • Daniel Blount — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Daniel Blunt, 35; wife Susan, 26; and children Ellen, 5, Eva, 3, Demsey, 1, Daniel, 12, and Charley, 10. Daniel Blunt died 28 July 1924 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 87 years old; was born in Pitt County, N.C., to Dempsey Blunt and Julia Carr; was married to Susanna Blunt; and worked as a laborer. [Dempsey Blunt was the son of Amos Blunt. Were they the A. and D. Blunt who founded Piney Grove?]
  • Windsor Darden — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Winsor Darden, 37; wife Mattie, 29; and children George, 11, Jesse, 8, Willie, 5, William, 3, and Mathis, 1; plus mother Mary Darden, 55. Windsor Darden died 8 February 1940 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 85 years old; was the widower of Mattie Darden; lived at 1017 Mercer Street; had been a common laborer; and was born in Wilson County to Benjamin Darden and Diliah [maiden name unknown]. Sarah Darden Harris was informant.

Deed book 65, page 297, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Lane Street Project: the 1913 deed for Vick cemetery.

It’s hard to understand how Wilson ever thought to deny its responsibility for Vick cemetery. Here’s the deed for its $700 purchase of the 7.84 acre tract, whose description notes its adjacency to “the colored Odd Fellows Cemetery tract.” (As a reminder: the Vick cemetery is so-called because Samuel H. and Annie M. Vick sold it to the city of Wilson, not because they were buried there. The Vick family plot is, in fact, in Odd Fellows cemetery.)

Deed book 97, page 85, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.